Indian army storms Golden Temple

Indian army storms Golden Temple

In a bloody climax to two years of fighting between the Indian government and Sikh separatists, Indian army troops fight their way into the besieged Golden Temple compound in Amritsar–the holiest shrine of Sikhism–and kill at least 500 Sikh rebels. More than 100 Indian soldiers and scores of nonbelligerent Sikhs also perished in the ferocious gun and artillery battle, which was launched in the early morning hours of June 6. The army also attacked Sikh guerrillas besieged in three dozen other temples and religious shrines throughout the state of Punjab. Indian officials hailed the operation as a success and said it “broke the back” of the Sikh terrorist movement.

The Sikh religion, which was founded in the late 15th century by Guru Nanak, combines elements of Hinduism and Islam, the two major religions of India. The religion is centered on the Indian state of Punjab in northern India, where Sikhs comprise a majority and speak Punjabi. In the 1970s, agricultural advances made Punjab one of India’s most prosperous states, and Sikh leaders began calling for greater autonomy from the central government. This movement was largely peaceful until 1982, when the Sikh fundamentalist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers launched a separatist campaign in Punjab. Employing terrorism and assassination, Bhindranwale and his guerrillas killed scores of political opponents and Hindu civilians in the name of establishing an autonomous Sikh Khalistan, or “Land of the Pure.” Most Sikhs did not support Bhindranwale’s violent campaign, in which the extremists also assassinated several Sikhs who spoke out against the creation of Khalistan.

To appease the Sikhs, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi nominated Zail Singh to be the first Sikh president of India in 1982, a significant choice because the Sikhs comprise a small percentage of India’s overall population. Most Sikhs distrusted Singh, however, because as Indian head of state he generally supported Gandhi’s policies. Meanwhile, the separatists occupied the Golden Temple and other Sikh holy sites and turned them into armed bases.

The Golden Temple, known as the Harmandir in India, was built in 1604 by Guru Arjun. It was destroyed several times by Afghan invaders and rebuilt in the early 19th century in marble and copper overlaid with gold foil. The temple occupies a small island in the center of a pool. There are a number of other important buildings in the 72-acre temple compound, including the Akal Takht, which is the repository for Sikhism’s Holy Book of scriptures and the headquarters of the religion.

To suppress the separatist revolt, which had claimed more than 400 Hindu and Sikh lives and virtually shut down Punjab, Prime Minister Gandhi ordered Indian troops to seize control of the Sikh bases by force in June 1984. On June 1, army troops surrounded the Golden Temple and exchanged gunfire with the rebels, who were heavily armed and commanded by a high-ranking army defector. The Sikhs refused to surrender, and in the early morning of June 6 army forces launched an assault on the temple compound. By daylight, the Sikhs were defeated.

Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the rebel leader, perished in the attack, allegedly by his own hand. The Indian government announced that 492 Sikh militants were killed, but the Sikhs put the number at more than 1,000. More than 100 army troops were killed and several hundred wounded. More than 1,500 Sikhs were arrested in the operation. The Golden Temple itself suffered only minor damage, but the Akal Takht, a scene of heavy fighting, was heavily damaged.

In the aftermath of the bloody confrontation, Sikhs rioted across India, and more people were killed. Some 1,000 Sikh soldiers in the Indian army mutinied, but these defectors were suppressed, and rebel leaders still at large were captured or killed. On October 31, in a dramatic act of retaliation, Indira Gandhi was shot to death in her garden by two Sikh members of her own bodyguard. This act only led to further violence, and thousands of Sikhs were massacred by angry Hindus in Delhi before Gandhi’s son and successor, Rajiv Gandhi, called out the army to end the orgy of violence. Punjab’s political status remained a divisive issue in India, and disorder and violence persisted in the state until the early 1990s.


Indian Troops Storm Sikhs’ Golden Temple

Several hundred security troops Saturday stormed the Golden Temple, the Sikhs’ most sacred shrine, after Sikh extremists killed one policeman and wounded at least three others who were investigating reports that a colleague had been kidnaped by the militants and was being tortured, authorities said.

Kanwaljit Singh, Punjab’s deputy minister, told a news conference in the state capital of Chandigarh that police and paramilitary troops, armed with rifles and automatic weapons, raced into the temple to rescue the wounded men. Five people were arrested and a cache of weapons seized, he said.

Police said one of the officers died, two were listed in critical condition and the fourth was treated and released. The tortured officer was admitted to a hospital, but his condition was not known.

The trouble began when an off-duty officer, who had gone to the ornate 17th-Century shrine to pray, was seized by militant Sikh students and tortured on suspicion he worked for intelligence officials.

According to Singh, the extremists took the officer to a room where they slashed his back, arms and legs and inserted chili powder into the cuts.

Militants opened fire with handguns on officers sent to investigate the alleged torture, hitting four of them, the minister added.

After the shooting, authorities cordoned off the area and ordered devotees out of the temple before deciding to storm the complex.

The action occurred days after Punjab’s Sikh chief minister, Surjit Singh Barnala, said in newspaper interviews that he would not allow police to storm the temple.

On Saturday, Barnala cut short a visit to the western Punjab town of Bhatinda and returned to Chandigarh, saying the sanctity of religious places must be maintained.

India’s 14 million Sikhs regard the temple as sacred and the entry of police as an affront to their faith.

In June, 1984, then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian army to storm the temple to dislodge Sikh militants, who were using it as a base for terrorist attacks and a sanctuary from police. More than 1,000 people, mostly Sikhs, died in the bloody raid, which created widespread resentment in the Sikh community and led to increased violence.

Two Sikh bodyguards gunned down Gandhi four months later to avenge the Indian army action.

Last April, police raided the temple again after Sikh extremists declared a separate nation and said a parallel government would operate from the Golden Temple. One person was killed and more than 300 were arrested.

Sikh militants have been fighting for a separate nation to be established in Punjab. More than 160 people have been killed in related violence this year alone.

Sikhs, whose religion is an offshoot of Hinduism, make up only 2% of the country’s 780 million people. But they are a majority in the rich farming state of Punjab.

Political observers in India said Saturday’s action could aggravate the problems of Barnala as well as Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Sikh militants have vowed to bring down the government of Barnala in a continuing tussle between extremists and moderates for the political control of Punjab.


Contents

Following the events of the 1978 Sikh-Nirankari clashes and the Dharam Yudh Morcha, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale had risen to prominence in Sikh political circles with his policy of getting the Anandpur Resolution passed, failing which he wanted to declare a separate country of Khalistan as a homeland for Sikhs. [44] Despite the resolution declaring its goals within the context of the state, and leaving the powers of Foreign Relations, Defense, Currency and General Communications subject to the jurisdiction of the central government, Indira Gandhi, the leader of the Akali Dal's rival Congress, viewed the Anandpur Sahib Resolution as a secessionist document. [45] This was despite the fact that Harchand Singh Longwal, the leader of the Akali Dal, stated that "Let us make it clear once and for all that the Sikhs have no designs to get away from India in any manner. What they simply want is that they should be allowed to live within India as Sikhs, free from all direct and indirect interference and tampering with their religious way of life. Undoubtedly, the Sikhs have the same nationality as other Indians." [46]

One of the main aims of the KGB active measures in the early 1980s was to manufacture evidence that the CIA and Pakistani intelligence were behind the growth of Sikh separatism in Punjab. [1] In 1981 the Soviets launched Operation Kontakt that was based on a forged document purporting to contain details of the weapons and money provided by the ISI to Sikh militants who wanted to create an independent country. [1] According to agent reports, the level of anxiety in the Indian embassy regarding Pakistani support for Sikh separatists indicated that KONTAKT was successfully achieving its goals of creating an alarmist effect. [1] The Soviets used a new recruit in the New Delhi residency named “Agent S” who was close to Indira Gandhi as a major channel for providing her disinformation. [1] Agent S provided Indira Gandhi with false documents purporting to show Pakistani involvement in the Khalistan conspiracy. [1] In November 1982 Yuri Andropov, the leader of the Soviet Union, approved a proposal to fabricate Pakistani intelligence documents detailing ISI plans to foment religious disturbances in Punjab and promote the creation of Khalistan as an independent Sikh state. [28] The KGB became confident that it could continue to deceive Indira Gandhi indefinitely with fabricated reports of CIA and Pakistani conspiracies against her. [28] The Soviets persuaded Rajiv Gandhi during a visit to Moscow in 1983 that the CIA was engaged in subversion in the Punjab. [28] When Rajiv Gandhi returned to India, he declared this to be true. [28] Indira Gandhi's decision to move troops into the Punjab was based on her taking seriously the disinformation provided by the Soviets regarding secret CIA support for the Sikhs. [29] The KGB was responsible for Indira Gandhi exaggerating the threats posed by both the CIA and Pakistan. [29] The KGB role in facilitating Operation Bluestar was acknowledged by Subramanian Swamy who stated in 1992 “The 1984 Operation Bluestar became necessary because of the vast disinformation against Sant Bhindranwale by the KGB, and repeated inside Parliament by the Congress Party of India." [47]

Guru Nanak Niwas Edit

In July 1982, the then President of Shiromani Akali Dal, Harchand Singh Longowal, invited Bhindranwale to take up residence at the Golden Temple complex. He called Bhindranwale "our stave to beat the government." [48] On 19 July 1982, Bhindranwale took shelter with approximately 200 armed followers in the Guru Nanak Niwas (Guest house), in the precincts of the Golden Temple. Bhindranwale had made Golden Temple complex his headquarters. [49] From there he met and was interviewed by international television crews. [50] Since the 1978 clashes, after which the Sant Nirankaris were acquitted despite initiating the clash, Bhindranwale's followers had begun keeping firearms and fortified the Gurdwara that served as the headquarters of the Damdami Taksal religious center. [49]

On 23 April 1983, Punjab Police Deputy Inspector General A. S. Atwal was shot dead by a gunman in the complex as he left the Harmandir Sahib compound. [51] The following day, Longowal accused Bhindranwale of involvement in the murder. [52] Reportedly [ weasel words ] , militants responsible for bombings and murders were taking shelter in some gurdwaras in Punjab. [53] The Punjab Assembly noted that the murder in the temple premises confirmed the charges that the extremists were being sheltered and given active support in religious places and the Guru Nanak Niwas, while Bhindranwale was openly supporting such elements. [54] However, the Congress-led government declared that it could not enter the gurdwaras for the fear of hurting Sikh sentiments. [53] After the murder of six Hindu bus passengers in October 1983, President's rule was imposed in Punjab. [55] This led to increasing communal tension between Sikhs and Hindus as Hindu mobs in Karnal, Haryana murdered 8 Sikhs and set fire to a Gurdwara on February 19, 1984. [56]

Occupation Edit

During debate in the Parliament of India members of both houses demanded the arrest of Bhindranwale. Sensing a prospect of his arrest from the hostel premises, he convinced SGPC president Tohra to set up his headquarter in Akal Takht (a shrine representing the temporal power of God) in the Golden Temple. [57] The temple high priest protested this move as a sacrilege since no Guru or leader ever resided in the Akal Takht on the floor above Granth Sahib, but Tohra agreed to Bhindranwale's demand to prevent his arrest. [57] On 15 December 1983, Bhindranwale was asked to move out of Guru Nanak Niwas house by members of the Babbar Khalsa, who opposed Bhindranwale, [58] who acted with Longowal's support. Longowal by now feared for his own safety. [59] Tohra convinced the high priest to allow Bhindranwale to reside on the first floor of Akal Takht, as he had nowhere to go to avoid arrest. [57] He said that he had to move to Akal Takht as Morcha director Longowal was negotiating with the government for his arrest. [57] The government said Bhindranwale and his followers had made the Golden Temple complex an armoury [60] and headquarters, [59] [ verification needed ] though amassing arms and usage as a base for waging war was part of the tradition of most historical gurdwaras, which display weapons caches used by the Gurus, depicting the centrality of Sikh sites to their struggles. [61]

A few leaders raised their voice against Bhindranwale in the Akal Takht complex and other gurdwaras across the state. [ clarification needed ] Among the prominent ones was Giani Partap Singh, an eighty year old spiritual leader and a former Jathedar of the Akal Takht. Partap had openly criticized Bhindranwale for stocking arms and ammunition in the Akal Takht. Bhindranwale's occupation of the Akal Takht was called an act of sacrilege. Partap was shot dead at his home in Tahli Chowk. Other dissenters were also killed. They included Harbans Singh Manchanda, the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee president, [62] Niranjan Singh, the Granthi of Gurudwara Toot Sahib, Granthi Jarnail Singh of Valtoha and Granthi Surat Singh of Majauli. [63]

The militants were able to claim safe haven in the most sacred place for the Sikhs due to the whole or partial support received by them from key Sikh religious leaders and institutions such as the SGPC, AISSF and Jathedar (head) of the Akal Takht. The support was either voluntary or forced by using violence or threat of violence. [61]

The Golden Temple complex afforded the militants based inside a facade of fighting a "holy war". It also gave them access to new potential recruits from among the visitors. Several multi-storied buildings were located on the Parikrama (walkway) around the reservoir of the temple, providing rooms and offices which were used by the militants. The temple complex also offered logistical advantage to the militants with easy access to food, water and communication lines. Further, the sanctity of the Golden Temple provided protection from arrests by the security forces, who avoided entering the Temple premises so as not to offend the religious sentiments of the Sikhs. [61]

In January 1984, India's secret service Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) prepared a covert plan codenamed Operation Sundown involving special forces to abduct Bhindranwale from the Golden Temple complex. [64] A RAW unit was formed to rehearse Operation Sundown in the Sarsawa Air Force Base in Uttar Pradesh, but the operation never materialized due to Indira Gandhi's rejection.

The government sent a team led by Narasimha Rao to try to convince Bhindranwale to back out but he was adamant. [65] The negotiations failed and the law and order situation in Punjab continued to deteriorate. [65] Indira Gandhi tried to persuade the Akalis to support her in the arrest of Bhindranwale peacefully. These talks ended up being futile. [65] In the days before the assault, government representatives met with Bhindranwale in a last ditch effort to negotiate a truce. The Sikhs would withdraw, believing they had seen a commando unit move into the city. [2] Bhindranwale warned of a backlash by the Sikh community in the event of an armed assault on the Golden Temple. [66] On 26 May, Tohra informed the government that he had failed to get Bhindranwale to agree to a peaceful resolution of the crisis, and that Bhindranwale was no longer under anyone's control. [67] Faced with imminent army action and with Harchand Singh Longowal abandoning him, Bhindranwale declared "This bird is alone. There are many hunters after it". [67] In his final interview to Subhash Kirpekar, Bhindranwale stated that Sikhs can neither live in India nor with India. [68]

Indira Gandhi then gave her permission to initiate Operation Blue Star on the recommendation of Army Chief Arun Shridhar Vaidya. She was apparently led to believe and had assumed that Operation Blue Star would not involve any civilian casualties. [69] The assumption was that when confronted Bhindranwale would surrender to the army. [70]

Fortification of Golden Temple Edit

An arsenal had been created within the Akal Takht over a period of several months. It was reported that trucks engaged for kar seva (religious service) and bringing in supplies for the daily langar were smuggling in guns and ammunition. The police never attempted to check these vehicles entering the Golden Temple, reportedly [ weasel words ] on instructions from superiors. During a random check one such truck was stopped and many Sten guns and ammunition were found. The Indian government White Paper alleged that after Operation Blue Star it was found that the militants had set up a grenade manufacturing facility, and a workshop for the fabrication of Sten-guns inside the Temple Complex. [71] However, the allegations of the militants being in possession of weapon workshops was never made prior to Operation Bluestar, and only after, with only the Army making these statements [72] The statements of multiple civilian eyewitnesses instead were consistent that the militants were a small number of men and had limited arms that were used sparingly. [72]

The Harmandir Sahib compound and some of the surrounding houses were fortified under the guidance of Major General Shabeg Singh, who had joined Bhindranwale's group after dismissal from the army. During their occupation of Akal Takht, Bhindranwale's group had begun fortifying the building. The Statesman reported that light machine guns and semi-automatic rifles were known to have been brought into the compound, [73] and strategically placed to defend against an armed assault on the complex. The modern weapons later found inside the temple complex indicated that foreign elements were involved. The heavier weapons were found to have Pakistani or Chinese markings on them. [74]

Holes were smashed through the marble walls of Akal takht to create gun positions. Walls were broken to allow entry points from the basements in the Takht and from the rooms around the Parikrama, to the tiled courtyards. Secure machine gun nests were created. All of these positions were protected by sandbags and newly made brick walls. The windows and arches of Akal Takht were blocked with bricks and sandbags. Sandbags were placed on the turrets. The entire Akal Takht had been converted into a large reinforced pillbox with weapons pointing in all directions. Every strategically significant building of the temple complex, apart from the Harmandir Sahib located at its very centre, had been fortified in a similar manner and allegedly defaced. The fortifications also included seventeen private houses in the residential area near the Temple. [63] All the high rise buildings and towers near the temple complex were occupied. The militants manning these vantage points were in wireless contact with Shabeg Singh in Akal Takht. [75] Under the military leadership of the cashiered Major General Singh, ex-army veterans and deserters had provided weapons training to Bhindranwale's men in the Temple Complex. [63] Young Sikhs were occupying firing positions in the shrine and the buildings on all sides of Akal Takht. [76]

The militants in the complex were anticipating an attack by government troops. The defences in the complex were created with the purpose of holding out long enough to provoke an uprising among Sikhs in the villages and encourage them to march en masse towards the Golden Temple in support of the militants. Sufficient food to last a month was stocked in the complex. [75]

During this period police and security forces stationed around the temple complex were allowed only beyond a sanitised area of more than 200 yards. This was to avoid the 'desecration' of the temple by their presence. The security forces were prevented by the politicians from taking action in enforcing the law. Even self-defence from the militants was made difficult. On 14 February 1984, a police post near the entrance of the Temple was attacked by a group of militants. Six fully armed policemen were captured and taken inside. After twenty four hours the police responded and sent in a senior police officer for negotiation. He asked Bhindranwale in the Akal Takht to release his men and return their weapons. Bhindranwale agreed only to return the corpse of one of the policemen who had been killed. Later the remaining five policemen who were still alive were also released, but their weapons, including three sten guns and a wireless set, were not returned. [63] [70]

The fortifications of the temple denied the army the possibility of commando operations. The buildings were close together and had labyrinthine passages all under the control of the militants. Militants in the temple premises had access to langars, food supplies, and water from the Sarovar (temple pond). Militants were well stocked with weapons and ammunition. Any siege under these circumstances would have been long and difficult. The option of laying down a long siege was ruled out by the army due to the risk of emotionally aroused villagers marching to the temple and clashing with the army. The negotiated settlement had already been rejected by Bhindranwale and the only option left to the government was to raid the temple. [77]

Rise in militant incidents Edit

As high-handed police methods normally used on common criminals were used on protesters during the Dharam Yudh Morcha, creating state repression affecting a very large segment of Punjab's population, retaliatory violence came from a section of the Sikh population, widening the scope of the conflict by the use of violence of the state on its own people, creating fresh motives for Sikh youth to turn to insurgency. [78] The concept of Khalistan was still vague even while the complex was fortified under the influence of former Sikh army officials alienated by government actions who now advised Bhindranwale, Major General Shabeg Singh and retired Major General and Brigadier Mohinder Singh, and at that point the concept was still not directly connected with the movement he headed. [78] In other parts of Punjab, a "state of chaos and repressive police methods" combined to create "a mood of overwhelming anger and resentment in the Sikh masses against the authorities," making Bhindranwale even more popular, and demands of independence gain currency, even amongst moderates and Sikh intellectuals. [78]

On 12 May 1984, Ramesh Chander, son of Lala Jagat Narain and editor of media house Hind Samachar group, was murdered by pro-Bhindranwale militants. In addition, seven editors and seven news hawkers and newsagents were killed in a planned attack on the freedom of media house, to cripple it financially. Punjab Police had to provide protection for the entire distribution staff, and scenes of armed policemen escorting news hawkers on their morning rounds became common. [79]

The numbers of violent militant incidents were increasing every month, alongside nearly 200 Sikhs killed by police forces and mob violence during the Dharam Yudh Morcha protests. It was nine in September 1983 in October it increased to thirty six, and in May 1984 there were more than fifty violent incidents. These incidents included bank robberies, attacks on police, arson at railway stations, bombings, indiscriminate shootings, and killing of Hindu passengers forcibly taken off of buses. [80] The total number of deaths was 410 in violent incidents and riots, and 1,180 people were injured. [81]

The government never provided evidence of the supposedly planned massacre of Hindus that triggered Operation Blue Star, although the pace of attacks was increasing. [82] Congress member of parliament Amarjit Kaur, who referred to the Akali Dal as "the enemy within" and who had opposed the creation of the Punjabi Suba, alleged that Bhindranwale wanted to start a civil war between the Hindus and Sikhs. [38] Meanwhile, the number of killings had been rising all over the state, with sometimes more than a dozen a day. [63] On 2 June in the last 24 hours before the announcement of the operation 23 people were killed. [83]

In June 1984, the army was called out to help the civil administration in Punjab in response to a request from the Punjab Governor, B. D. Pande, "in view of the escalating violence by terrorists in Punjab". [84] On 2 June Operation Blue Star had been initiated to flush out the militants from the Golden Temple. [85]

Certain radical groups [ who? ] had already started the movement to drive Hindus out of certain areas to make way for Sikhs coming in from other states. [86] Due to the increased incidents of religious violence, exchange of population had already started in Punjab. Sikhs from other states were moving into Punjab and Punjabi Hindus were moving to neighbouring states in increasing numbers. New Khalistani currency was being printed and distributed. [35] By May 1984, the establishment of an independent Khalistan seemed imminent, as the Indian government had "received intelligence" that Pakistan had been supporting the militants with arms and money, and if Khalistan declared its independence there was the risk of Pakistan recognizing the new country and sending the Pakistani Army into Indian Punjab to guarantee its security. [35] However, the Indian government had been the target of disinformation by the KGB which had deliberately sought to implicate the ISI in the Khalistan movement by spreading forged documents and reports to the Indian government. [1]

Operation Blue Star was launched to remove Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers who had sought cover in the Amritsar Harmandir Sahib Complex.

On 3 June, a 36-hour curfew was imposed on the state of Punjab with all methods of communication and public travel suspended. [87] The electricity supply was also interrupted, creating a total blackout and cutting off the state from the rest of the world. [88] Complete media censorship was enforced. [88]

The army stormed Harmandir Sahib on the night of 5 June under the command of Kuldip Singh Brar. The forces had full control of Harmandir Sahib by the morning of 7 June. There were casualties among the army, civilians, and militants. Sikh leaders Bhindranwale and Shabeg Singh were killed in the operation. [89]

Generals Edit

The armed Sikhs within the Harmandir Sahib were led by Bhindranwale, former Maj. Gen. Shabeg Singh, and Amrik Singh, the President of the All India Sikh Students Federation from Damdami Taksal.

General Arun Shridhar Vaidya was the Chief of the Indian Army. General Vaidya, assisted by Lt. Gen. Sundarji as Vice-Chief, planned and coordinated Operation Blue Star. [90] From the Indian Army Lt. Gen. Kuldip Singh Brar had command of the action, operating under General Krishnaswamy Sundarji. Brar was in charge of an infantry division at Meerut. On 31 May he had been summoned from Meerut and asked to lead the operation to remove the militants from the temple. Brar was a Jat Sikh, same caste as Bhindranwale, and his ancestral village was only a few miles from Bhindranwale's. Brar was also acquainted with Shabeg Singh, having been his student at the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun. They had worked together in the Bangladesh operations. [75] Among the six generals leading the operation, four were Sikhs. [91] : 175

The army operation was further subdivided along two subcategories: [92]

  1. Operation Metal: To take out the militants including Bhindranwale from the Golden Temple complex. Brar's 9 Infantry Division was deputed for this.
  2. Operation Shop: To raid extremist hide-outs throughout the Punjab state and to mop up the militants remaining in the countryside.

In addition, the army carried out Operation Woodrose, in which units were deployed to the border areas, replacing the pickets routinely held by the paramilitary Border Security Force. The border pickets were held in at least company strength. [92]

1 June Edit

On 1 June 1984 the Indian security forces fired into various buildings with the goal of assessing the training of the militants. [31] [32] Eyewitness testimony of pilgrims inside the temple complex state that the Harmandir Sahib was fired on initially by security forces on 1 June and not 5 June as reported by the army. [32] The exercise lasted for seven hours and resulted in the main shrine of the Harmandir Sahib sustaining 34 bullet marks. [31] The action claimed the lives of eight pilgrims, including a woman and a child, inside the temple complex and injured 25 others. [31] Devinder Singh Duggal, who was in-charge of the Sikh Reference Library located inside of the Golden Temple complex and an eye-witness to Operation Blue Star stated that the militants were given instructions to not fire until the army or security forces entered the temple. [31] [93] Duggal stated ". when I heard in the news bulletin that there was unprovoked firing from inside the Temple, but that the security forces showed extreme restrain and did not fire a single shot, I was surprised at this naked lie". [93] The deaths of at least three of the pilgrims was confirmed by the eyewitness testimony of a female Sikh student who had dressed their wounds and who later witnessed their deaths in Guru Nanak Nivas. [93] Furthermore, Duggal stated that on 2 June 1984 a team of the BBC, including Mark Tully, were taken around the Darbar Sahib and shown 34 holes, some of them as big as three inches in diameter, caused by the bullets on all sides of the temple. [94] Mark Tully noted, “The C.R.P.F. firing took place four days before the army actually entered the Temple”. [94]

2 June Edit

The army had already sealed the international border from Kashmir to Ganga Nagar, Rajasthan. At least seven divisions of troops were deployed in villages of Punjab. The soldiers began taking control of the city of Amritsar from the paramilitary. A young Sikh officer posing as a pilgrim was sent in to reconnoitre the temple. He spent an hour in the complex noting defensive preparations. Plans were made to clear vantage points occupied by militants outside the complex before the main assault. Patrols were also sent to study these locations. [75]

As the Indian army was sealing off exits out of Amritsar, it continued to allow pilgrims to enter the temple complex. [95] All outgoing trains from Amritsar had left by noon and other trains were cancelled. [95] The CRPF outside the temple had been replaced by the army who were taking into custody any visitors leaving the temple. [95] A pilgrim who survived the assault stated that he did not leave the temple because of the detention of visitors by the army. [95]

By nightfall media and the press were gagged and rail, road and air services in Punjab were suspended. Foreigners and NRIs were denied entry. General Gauri Shankar was appointed as the Security Advisor to the Governor of Punjab. The water and electricity supply was cut off. [96] [97] [98]

3 June Edit

In the morning the curfew was relaxed to allow Sikh pilgrims to go inside the temple to celebrate the martyrdom day of Sikhism's fifth guru Arjan, who martyred in the early 17th century. Around 200 young Sikhs were allowed to escape from the temple premises during this period, most of whom were criminals and left-wing extremists (naxalites). [99]

According to an All Sikhs Student Federation member, 10,000 people had come from outside including many women and 4000 of them were young people. [95] The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee estimates that approximately 10,000 to 15,000 pilgrims had come from Punjab's cities and villages to attend the Gurparab. [37] Along with the pilgrims were 1300 Akali workers led by Jathedar Nachattar Singh who had come to participate in the Dharam Yudh Morcha and to court arrest. [100] [38] The Akali jathas who were also present consisted of about 200 women, 18 children and about 1100 men and were also forced to stay inside the temple complex. [95] [38] Those who were inside were not allowed to go out after 10:00 PM on 3 June because of the curfew placed by the military. [95]

In addition, as of 3 June the pilgrims who had entered the temple in the days prior were unaware that Punjab had been placed under curfew. [100] Thousands of pilgrims and hundreds of Akali workers had been allowed to collect inside the Temple complex without any warning either of the sudden curfew or imminent Army attack. [100]

In the night the curfew was re-imposed with the army and para-military patrolling all of Punjab. The army sealed off all routes of ingress and exit around the temple complex. [99]

Army units led by Indian Army Lt. Gen Kuldip Singh Brar surrounded the temple complex on 3 June 1984. Just before the commencement of the operation, K.S. Brar addressed the soldiers:

The action is not against the Sikhs or the Sikh religion it is against terrorism. If there is anyone amongst them, who have strong religious sentiments or other reservations, and do not wish to take part in the operation he can opt out, and it will not be held against him.

However, no one opted out and that included many "Sikh officers, junior commissioned officers and other ranks". [101]

4 June Edit

On 4 and 5 June announcements were broadcast over loudspeakers asking pilgrims inside to leave the temple. [75] However, in 2017 the Amritsar District and Sessions Judge Gurbir Singh gave a ruling which stated that there was no evidence that the Indian army provided warnings for pilgrims to leave the temple complex before commencing their assault. [34] Judge Gurbir Singh wrote in his ruling, "There is no evidence that army made any announcements asking ordinary civilians to leave Golden Temple complex before launching the operation in 1984. There is no written record of any public announcement by the civil authorities requesting the people to come out of the complex. No log of vehicle used for making such announcements is there. The event underlines the human rights violations by troops during the operation. [34] [102] The lack of evidence of any warning to vacate the temple complex was the basis of a compensatory award given to Sikhs who had been illegally detained by the Indian military. [34] The army began bombarding the historic Ramgarhia Bunga, the water tank, and other fortified positions with Ordnance QF 25-pounder artillery. After destroying the outer defences laid by Shabeg Singh, the army moved tanks and APCs onto the road separating the Guru Nanak Niwas building. [103]

The army helicopters spotted the massive movements, and General K. Sunderji sent tanks and APCs to meet them. [104]

The artillery and small arms firing stopped for a while, and Gurcharan Singh Tohra, former head of SGPC, was sent to negotiate with Bhindranwale for his surrender. He was, however, unsuccessful and the firing resumed.

The accounts of survivors inside of the temple complex were consistent with the military commencing its assault in the early morning of June 4. [100] Duggal states that the army attack started at 4:00 AM with a 25-pounder that fell in the ramparts of the Deori to the left of the Akal Takht Sahib. [100] Duggal further states that during the assault he saw a number of dead bodies of children and women in the Parikrama. [100] The army's assault had prevented Duggal from leaving the room in which he had taken shelter as he believed it would have resulted in his death. [100] Another eyewitness, Bhan Singh the Secretary of the SGPC, states that the army provided no warning of the start of the attack which prevented pilgrims and those who came as a part of the Dharam Yudh Morcha from exiting. [105] A female survivor recalled that it was not until the army began using explosives on the temple that they were aware that it had commenced its assault. [105] She further stated that within the Harmandir Sahib, there were some garanthis (priests), ragis (singers), sevadars (employees) and yatris (pilgrims) but no armed terrorists. [105] Prithpal Singh, the sevadar on duty at the Akal rest house which housed pilgrims, stated that it was shelled by the military. [105] As of May 1985 during the recording of Prithpal's account, the Akal Rest house still bore the bullet marks caused by the Indian Army. [106]

5 June Edit

On 5 June the blind head Ragi of the Harmandir Sahib Amrik Singh and Ragi Avtar Singh, were struck by bullets inside of the Harmandir Sahib by the Indian army. [107] The army's targeting of the Harmandir Sahib with bullets was in contrast to the alleged restraint stated in the army issued White Paper on 10 July 1984. [107] As of 5 June pilgrims who had reached the temple on 3 June were still present hiding in rooms. [108] In one room 40-50 persons were huddled together including a six-month-old child during the army's assault. [108] A female survivor of the assault stated that the army asked people to leave their hiding spots and guaranteed safe passage and water she recalled seeing the dead bodies of pilgrims who answered the announcements lying in the Parikrama the next morning. [108]

In the morning, shelling started on the building inside the Harmandir Sahib complex. [109] The 9th division launched a frontal attack on the Akal Takht, although it was unable to secure the building. The Golden Temple complex had honeycombed tunnel structures. The army was kept under withering machine gun fire from the manholes of the tunnels. The militants would pop out of the manholes and fire machine guns and then disappear back into the tunnels. [110]

The BSF and CRPF attacked Hotel Temple View and Brahm Boota Akhara, respectively, on the southwest fringes of the complex. By 22:00 hours both the structures were under their control. [111] The army simultaneously attacked various other gurdwaras. Sources mention either 42 or 74 locations. [103]

Late in the evening, the generals decided to launch a simultaneous attack from three sides. Ten Guards, 1 Para Commandos and Special Frontier Force (SFF) would attack from the main entrance of the complex, and 26 Madras and 9 Kumaon battalions from the hostel complex side entrance from the south. The objective of the 10 Guards was to secure the northern wing of the Temple complex and draw attention away from SFF who were to secure the western wing of the complex and 1 Para Commandos who were to gain a foothold in Akal Takht and in Harmandir Sahab, with the help of divers. Twenty-six Madras was tasked with securing the southern and the eastern complexes, and the 9 Kumaon regiment with SGPC building and Guru Ramdas Serai. Twelve Bihar was charged with providing a cordon and fire support to the other regiments by neutralising enemy positions under their observance. [112]

An initial attempt by the commandos to gain a foothold at Darshani Deori failed as they came under devastating fire, after which several further attempts were made with varying degrees of success. Eventually, other teams managed to reach Darshani Deori, a building north of the Nishan Sahib, and started to fire at the Akal Takth and a red building towards its left, so that the SFF troops could get closer to the Darshani Deori and fire gas canisters at Akal Takth. The canisters bounced off the building and affected the troops instead.

Meanwhile, 26 Madras and 9 Garhwal Rifles (reserve troops) had come under heavy fire from the Langar rooftop, Guru Ramdas Serai and the buildings in the vicinity. Moreover, they took a lot of time in forcing open the heavy Southern Gate, which had to be shot open with tank fire. This delay caused a lot of casualties among the Indian troops fighting inside the complex. Three tanks and an APC had entered the complex.

Crawling was impossible as Shabeg Singh had placed light machine guns nine or ten inches above the ground. The attempt caused many casualties among the Indian troops. A third attempt to gain the Pool was made by a squad of 200 commandos. On the southern side, the Madras and Garhwal battalions were not able to make it to the pavement around the pool because they were engaged by positions on the southern side.

Despite the mounting casualties, General Sunderji ordered a fourth assault by the commandos. This time, the Madras battalion was reinforced with two more companies of the 7th Garhwal Rifles under the command of General Kuldip Singh Brar. However, the Madras and Garhwal troops under Brigadier A. K. Dewan once again failed to move towards the parikarma (the pavement around the pool).

Brigadier Dewan reported heavy casualties and requested more reinforcements. General Brar sent two companies of 15 Kumaon Regiment. This resulted in yet more heavy casualties, forcing Brigadier Dewan to request tank support. As one APC inched closer to the Akal Takth it was hit with an anti-tank RPG, which immediately immobilized it. Brar also requested tank support. The tanks received the clearance to fire their main guns (105 mm high-explosive squash head shells) only at around 7:30 a.m. [113]

6 June Edit

Vijayanta tanks shelled the Akal Takht. It suffered some damage but the structure was still standing. The commanders in charge of the operation were shocked by this discovery that Militants in Akal Takhts had two Chinese-made rocket-propelled grenade launchers with armour-piercing capabilities. [110] The Special Group, a confidential special forces unit of the R&AW, began its planned raid on this day. [115]

7 June Edit

The army entered the Akal Takht. Dead bodies of Bhindranwale, Shabeg Singh and Amrik Singh were discovered in the building. [110] The army gained effective control of the Harmandir Sahib complex. [ citation needed ]

8–10 June Edit

The army fought about four Sikhs holed up in basement of a tower. A colonel of the commandos was shot dead by an LMG burst while trying to force his way into the basement. By the afternoon of 10 June, the operation was over. [ citation needed ]

The Indian army initially placed total casualties at [75] 554 Sikh militants and civilians dead, [21] and 83 killed (4 officers, 79 soldiers) and 236 wounded among government forces. Kuldip Nayar cites Rajiv Gandhi as admitting that nearly 700 soldiers were killed. [116] This number was disclosed by Gandhi in September 1984 as he was addressing the National student Union of India session in Nagpur. [15]

Independent casualty figures were much higher. [22] Bhindranwale and large number of his militants were killed. There were high civilian casualties as well, which the Indian government argued were due to Sikhs in the Golden Temple using pilgrims trapped inside the temple as human shields, [35] though the operation was conducted at a time when the Golden Temple was packed to capacity with pilgrims who were there to celebrate the annual martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Guru of the Sikhs. [19] The pilgrims were not allowed by the militants to escape from the temple premises in spite of relaxation in the curfew hours by the security forces. [117] According to Indian army generals, "it is possible" that militants were "depending upon the Sikh masses to form a human shield to prevent action by the army," as well as the presence of a "whole lot of moderate Akali leadership." [118]

U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague attributed high civilian casualties to the Indian Government's attempt at a full frontal assault on the militants, diverging from the recommendations provided by the U.K. Military. [119] [120] The Indian military had created a situation where civilians were allowed to collect inside of the temple complex. On 3 June the Indian military allowed pilgrims to enter the temple complex. [95] The Indian military also allowed thousands of protestors whom were a part of the Dharam Yudh Morcha to enter the temple complex. [95] These protestors included women and children. [95] There was no warning provided to the pilgrims who entered on 3 June that a curfew was put in place by the military. [95] These pilgrims were prevented from leaving after the curfew had been placed by the army at approximately 10:00 PM. [95]

On 4 June no warning was provided to the pilgrims to evacuate and the pilgrims were deterred of leaving as the Indian army would arrest anyone who left the temple complex. [32] Although officially the army stated that it made announcements, the eyewitness testimony of pilgrims who were arrested after the assault was used as the basis of a decision in the Amritsar district court in April 2017 which held that the army made no such announcements. [34] The eyewitness testimony of survivors of the army's assault on the temple complex were consistent with stating that they were unaware of the start of the attack by the army until it took place without notice on the morning of 4 June. [100]

On 6 June the Indian military detained surviving pilgrims on the grounds that they were affiliated with the militants and subjected them to interrogations, beatings and executions. [121]

President Zail Singh visited the temple premises after the operation, while making the round, he was shot at by a sniper from one of the buildings that the army had not yet cleared. The bullet hit the arm of an army colonel accompanying the president. [122] The operation also led to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 31 October 1984 by two of her Sikh bodyguards as an act of vengeance, [123] [124] triggering the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The widespread killing of Sikhs, principally in the national capital Delhi but also in other major cities in North India, led to major divisions between the Sikh community and the Indian Government. The army withdrew from Harmandir Sahib later in 1984 under pressure from Sikh demands. [125] The 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182 is thought to have been a revenge action.

General Arun Shridhar Vaidya, the Chief of Army Staff at the time of Operation Blue Star, was assassinated in 1986 in Pune by two Sikhs, Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha. Both were sentenced to death, and hanged on 7 October 1992.

In March 1986, Sikh militants again occupied and continued to use the temple compound which necessitated another police action known as Operation Black Thunder on 1 May 1986, Indian paramilitary police entered the temple and arrested 200 militants that had occupied Harmandir Sahib for more than three months. [126] On 2 May 1986 the paramilitary police undertook a 12-hour operation to take control of Harmandir Sahib at Amritsar from several hundred militants, but almost all the major radical leaders managed to escape. [127] In June 1990, the Indian government ordered the area surrounding the temple to be vacated by local residents in order to prevent militants activity around the temple. [128]

Mutinies by Sikh soldiers Edit

As the aftermath of the Operation Blue Star, cases of mutinies by Sikh soldiers, mostly raw recruits, were reported from different places. On 7 June, six hundred soldiers of the 9th Battalion of the Sikh Regiment, almost the entire other ranks' strength, mutinied in Sri Ganganagar. While some managed to escape to Pakistan, most were rounded up by men of Rajputana Rifles. The largest mutiny took place in Sikh Regimental Centre at Ramgarh in Bihar where recruits for the Sikh Regiment are trained. There, 1,461 soldiers—1,050 of them raw recruits, stormed the armoury, killing one officer and injuring two before they set out for Amritsar. The leaders of the mutiny divided the troops into two groups just outside of Banaras to avoid a rumoured roadblock. One half was engaged by army artillery at Shakteshgarh railway station those who managed to escape were rounded up by 21st Mechanised Infantry Regiment. The other half engaged with the artillery and troops of 20th Infantry Brigade, during which 35 soldiers (both sides) were killed. [129] [130] [131] There were five more smaller mutinies in different parts of India. In total 55 mutineers were killed and 2,606 were captured alive. [132] [130]

The captured mutineers were court-martialed, despite efforts by various groups including retired Sikh officers to get them reinstated. [133] In August 1985, 900 of the 2,606 mutineers were rehabilitated by the Central government as part of the Rajiv-Longowal accord. [130]

Long term effects Edit

The long-term results of the operation included:

  1. Intended to end the insurgency, the operation, had the opposite effect, with attacks escalating. [49] There was more violence in Punjab after Operation Bluestar than prior. Official estimates of civilians, police, and terrorists killed increased from 27 in 1981, 22 in 1982, and 99 in 1983 to more than one thousand per year from 1987 to 1992. [134]
  2. Outraging Sikhs all over India, with most finding it unacceptable that the armed forces had desecrated the Golden Temple, thousands of young men would join the Khalistan movement, [35] with "organized insurgency not taking root in Punjab until after the operation." [135] Sikhs became outraged with the military action in the bastion of Sikhi that provoked a wave of deep anguish and long-term resentment. [136]
  3. The operation inflamed tensions in Punjab, though independence would only be declared by a Sarbat Khalsa in 1986, as 500,000 deployed Indian troops operated violently in Punjab, causing an estimated 250,000 Sikh deaths between 1984 and 1992. [137]

The operation has been criticised on several grounds including: the government's choice of timing for the attack, the heavy casualties, the loss of property, and allegations of human rights violations.

Timing Edit

Operation Blue Star was planned on a Sikh religious day—the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, the founder of the Harmandir Sahib. Sikhs from all over the world visit the temple on this day. Many Sikhs view the timing and attack by the army as an attempt to inflict maximum casualties on Sikhs and demoralise them, [138] and the government is in turn blamed for the inflated number of civilian casualties by choosing to attack on that day. Additionally, Longowal had announced a statewide civil disobedience movement that would launch on 3 June 1984. Participants planned to block the flow of grain out of Punjab and refuse to pay land revenue, water and electricity bills. [139] [140]

When asked about why the army entered the temple premises just after Guru Arjan Dev's martyrdom day (when the number of devotees is much higher), General Brar said that it was just a coincidence and that while he could not "comment on the inside of politics," he "assume[d] that after taking everything into consideration, the prime minister and the government decided this was the only course of action left," with "perhaps" the army having only had three to four days to complete the operation. Based on "some sort of information," Bhindranwale was planning to declare Khalistan an independent country any moment with "a strong possibility" of support from Pakistan, and "Khalistani currency had already been distributed." This declaration "might" have increased chances of "large sections" of Punjab Police and security personnel siding with Bhindranwale as "if there could be desertions in the army, then the police, who were in Punjab, who were privy to Bhindranwale's speeches, might have [also deserted]," as "they were also emotionally charged by what was happening." [141] The army waited for the surrender of militants on the night of 5 June but the surrender did not happen. The operation had to be completed before dawn. Otherwise, exaggerated messages of army besieging the temple would have attracted mobs from nearby villages to the temple premises. The army could not have fired upon these civilians. More importantly, Pakistan would have come in the picture, declaring its support for Khalistan. [33] He described the operation as traumatic and painful, but necessary. [142]

Media censorship Edit

Before the attack by the army, a media blackout was imposed in Punjab. [143] The Times reporter Michael Hamlyn reported that journalists were picked up from their hotels at 5 a.m. in a military bus, taken to the adjoining border of the state of Haryana and "were abandoned there." [143] The main towns in Punjab were put under curfew, transportation was banned, a news blackout was imposed, and Punjab was "cut off from the outside world." [144] A group of journalists who later tried to drive into Punjab were stopped at the road block at Punjab border and were threatened with being shot if they proceeded. [143] Indian nationals who worked with the foreign media also were banned from the area. [143] The press criticized these actions by government as an "obvious attempt to attack the temple without the eyes of the foreign press on them." [145] The media blackout throughout Punjab resulted in spread of rumours. The only available source of information during the period was All India Radio and the Doordarshan channel. [146]

Human rights Edit

Sikh militants Edit

The government issued White Paper alleged that on June 6, a group of some 350 people, including Longowal and Tohra surrendered to the army near the Guru Nanak Niwas. [147] The White Paper further alleged that that to prevent their surrender to the security forces the militants opened fire and hurled grenades on the group resulting in the deaths of 70 people, including 30 women and 5 children. [147] [63] However, neither Bhan Singh nor Longowal during their recounting of the events that took place on June 6 made any reference to either surrendering to the military or an attack on civilians by the militants. [147]

The government issued White Paper alleged that on 8 June 1984, an unarmed army doctor who had entered a basement to treat some civilian casualties was abducted by the militants and was hacked to death. [63] [147] However, Giani Puran Singh who was called by the military to act as a mediator to facilitate the surrender of four militants in the basement of the Bunga Jassa Singh Ramgharia, stated that the "so called doctor" had been killed along with two other army personnel when they ventured close to the militant's hiding place. [147]

Indian army Edit

Former Indian Service Officer Ramesh Inder Singh, the then Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Amritsar in one of his interview with BBC said that even the Governor of (Indian) Punjab did not know that there would be military action and he indicated that the Operation was badly carried out and panic among foot soldiers was so evident that they were formalizing their plans on the bonnets of their vehicles.

Brahma Chellaney, the Associated Press's South Asia correspondent, was the only foreign reporter who managed to stay on in Amritsar despite the media blackout. [148] His dispatches, filed by telex, provided the first non-governmental news reports on the bloody operation in Amritsar. His first dispatch, front-paged by The New York Times, The Times of London and The Guardian, reported a death toll about twice of what authorities had admitted. According to the dispatch, about 780 militants and civilians and 400 troops had perished in fierce gun-battles. [149] Chellaney reported that about "eight to ten" men suspected Sikh militants had been shot with their hands tied. In that dispatch, Mr. Chellaney interviewed a doctor who said he had been picked up by the army and forced to conduct postmortems despite the fact he had never done any postmortem examination before. [150] In reaction to the dispatch, the Indian government charged Chellaney with violating Punjab press censorship, two counts of fanning sectarian hatred and trouble, and later with sedition, [151] calling his report baseless and disputing his casualty figures. [152] The Supreme Court of India ordered Chellaney to cooperate with Amritsar police, who interrogated him concerning his report and sources. Chellaney declined to reveal his source, citing journalistic ethics and the constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press. In September 1985 charges against Chellaney were dropped. [151] The Associated Press stood by the accuracy of the reports and figures, which were "supported by Indian and other press accounts". [153]

Similar accusations of highhandedness by the army and allegations of human rights violations by security forces in Operation Blue Star and subsequent military operations in Punjab have been leveled by Justice V. M. Tarkunde, [154] Mary Anne Weaver, [155] human rights lawyer Ram Narayan Kumar, [156] and anthropologists Cynthia Mahmood and Joyce Pettigrew. [157] [158] [159]

Some of the human rights abuses alleged to have been committed by the Indian army were:

  • In April 2017 Justice Gurbir Singh stated that the army's failure to provide any announcement to pilgrims before commencing Operation Bluestar was a human rights violation. [34]
  • The Indian army mistreated pilgrims who were detained immediately after the fighting stopped on June 6 by failing to provide them any water. Some pilgrims were reduced to collecting drinking water from the canals that contained dead bodies and were filled with blood. [160]
  • Ragi Harcharan Singh stated that on June 6 the Indian army gave its first announcement for evacuation since the commencement of Operation Bluestar. Singh states that he witnessed hundreds of pilgrims, including women, being shot at by the army as they emerged from hiding. [39]
  • A female survivor witnessed Indian soldiers line up Sikh men in a que, tie their arms behind their backs with their turbans, beat them with rifle butts until they bled and then executed by being shot. [161]
  • Giana Puran Singh stated he along with 3-4 others were used as human shields for the protection of an officer who wanted to inspect the inside of the Darbar Sahib for anyone using a machine gun. [162]
  • A member of the AISSF stated that on June 6 those who surrendered before the army were made to lie down on the hot road, interrogated, made to move on their knees, bit with rifle butts and kicked with boots on private parts and their heads. The detainees were made to have their arms tied behind their backs with their own turbans and denied water. At about 7:00 PM the detainees were made to sit on the Parikrama near the army tanks. Many were injured as there was still firing from the side of the Akal Takht. [162]
  • Post-mortem reports showed that most of the dead bodies had their hands tied behind their backs, implying they had died after the army assault and not during. These bodies were in a putrid state at the time of post-mortem as they had been exposed in the open for 72 hours before being brought in. [40]

The Indian Army responded to this criticism by stating that they "answered the call of duty as disciplined, loyal and dedicated members of the Armed Forces of India. . our loyalties are to the nation, the armed forces to which we belong, the uniforms we wear and to the troops we command". [163]

Strategy Edit

Blue Star encompassed 41 other gurdwaras all over Punjab in which more than 3 army divisions were deployed. [118] As later events conclusively proved, the operations was not only flawed in its very concept but marred by poor planning and execution. [19] According to Khushwant Singh,

"As far as the competence of the Army the less said the better. In an age where a handful of Israeli or German commandos could, through a well-planned action overcome a well-entrenched enemy thousands of miles away from them, the best our generals could do was to storm the Temple complex with tanks and armoured cars, blast the Akal Takht to get at Bhindranwale and 200 of his men. In crossfire upwards of 5,000 people, a majority of them pilgrims, including women and children, lost their lives. Far from doing a competent job, our army commanders botched up a simple operation." [19]

As reported by Indian Army Major General Afsir Karim, among the main factors of planning and conduct which aggravated the impact of this operation, the foremost decision was to launch the assault on the day of the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan, the builder of the temple, described as "sheer perversity," as a large number of pilgrims were bound to be injured and killed. [19] The date being chosen for its surprise factor, or the presence of pilgrims potentially preventing the militants from responding, showed "cynical disregard" for innocent lives, with "neither good soldiering nor honourable combat" on the part of the senior generals in charge of planning the operation. [19] They would later "make various statements, invent excuses, and shade the truth to hide inconvenient facts." [19] The incompetence resulting in the burning of the Sikh Reference Library was taken as "vengeful vandalism" by the Sikh masses. [19] The additional Army action of Operation Woodrose, where 37 other gurdwaras were subjected to a combing operation, also put the Sikhs on notice and created an atmosphere of terror, widening the scope of the conflict. [135]

There was "little doubt," according to Karim, that it was the operation, because of its lasting adverse effects on the Sikh masses, which put a majority of unemployed Sikh youth, disadvantaged by the economic results of the Green Revolution that the Dharam Yudh Morcha had been launched to ameliorate through the implementation of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, on the road to insurgency. [135] After the operation a large number crossed the border for training and weaponry, as an operation where "thousands of Sikh youth were humiliated, harassed, and physically hurt was bound to intensify the conflict." [135] Previously the conflict had been limited to a few radical groups and scattered, small-scale incidents after, it affected all of Punjab, with "organized insurgency not taking root in Punjab until after the operation." [135]

The military operation was a disastrous political decision and severely bungled [164] Lt. Gen. S. K. Sinha would later characterize the operation as both a political and military blunder, [165] and would cite Sundarji as flouting standard operating procedure laid out by Sinha, [165] seeking army promotion, [165] and impressing Indira Gandhi, [165] who wanted to appear politically strong to her electorate after frustrations in Kashmir. He would also ascribe his dismissal by Gandhi to his attempts to put up his views of the Akali problem, [165] and his long personal friendships with Akalis, [165] which he believed irritated Gandhi. [165]

According to retired Lt. Gen. Shankar Prasad, “It was because of the disasters called Vaidya [who superseded Sinha] and Sundarji — who did not have the brains to pick on the plans left behind by Lt Gen. S.K. Sinha — that we had both a political folly compounded by a military botch-up.” [166] He would blame Sundarji more for the operation than Vaidya, who he says "“was taken in by Sundarji’s swagger,” [166] and that both “were being politically subservient to the Prime Minister. maybe they wanted governorships or ambassadorships after serving their time." [166] Prasad also believed that the military high command should have refused to implement the order, and craft a more suitable operation in its place, instead of being pressured by deadlines from the political leadership. [166]

In the UK cabinet secretary's report, contrary to the advice of a British military advisor in February 1984 of surgical strike involving a helicopter-borne commando operation had advised in February 1984, the Indian Army went into the temple "sledgehammer-style," [166] with massive casualties of civilians. [166] The assault on the Golden Temple would be later recognized as a major blunder on the part of the central government even by Congress leaders. [167]

Five years later, the army's strategy was criticised by comparing it with the blockade approach taken by KPS Gill in Operation Black Thunder, when Sikh militants had again taken over the temple complex. It was said that Operation Blue Star could have been averted by using similar blockade tactics. The army responded by stating that "no comparison is possible between the two situations", as "there was no cult figure like Bhindranwale to idolise, and no professional military general like Shahbeg Singh to provide military leadership" and "the confidence of militants having been shattered by Operation Blue Star." [163] Furthermore, it was pointed out that the separatists in the temple were armed with machine guns, anti-tank missiles and Chinese-made armour-piercing rocket launchers, and that they strongly resisted the army's attempts to dislodge them from the shrine, appearing to have planned for a long standoff, having arranged for water to be supplied from wells within the temple compound and had stocked food provisions that could have lasted months. [163] : 153–154

Honours to the soldiers Edit

The soldiers and generals involved in the Operation were presented with gallantry awards, honours, decoration strips and promotions by the Indian president Zail Singh, a Sikh, in a ceremony conducted on 10 July 1985. The act was criticized by authors and activists such as Harjinder Singh Dilgeer, who accused the troops of human rights violations during the operation. [168]

British involvement Edit

The United Kingdom's Thatcher government was aware of the Indian government's intention to storm the temple, and had provided an SAS officer to advise the Indian authorities. [2] This and other assistance was reportedly [ weasel words ] intended to safeguard the UK's arms sales to India. [2] Relevant UK government records have been censored. [2]


What happened during 1984 Operation Blue Star?

The 1984 Operation Blue Star was the biggest internal security mission ever undertaken by the Indian Army. Operation Blue Star was Indira Gandhi's solution to the haywire going law and order situation in Punjab.

Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, ordered the military operation to remove Sikh militants who were accumulating weapons in the Harmandir Sahib Complex (Golden Temple).

Operation Blue Star was carried out between June 1 and June 8, 1984, in Amritsar.

THE BIRTH OF BLUE STAR

Operation Blue Star took birth after the rise of Khalistan movement in India. The Khalistan movement was a political Sikh nationalist movement which aimed at creating an independent state for Sikhs inside the current North-Western Republic of India.

Even though the Khalistan movement started in the early 1940s and 1950s, it gained popularity between 1970s and 1980s.

JARNAIL SINGH BHINDRANWALE

Bhindranwale was the leader of Damdami Taksal and was one of the main reasons behind Operation Blue Star. As a leader, Bhindranwale had an influence on Sikh youth. He persuaded many people to follow Sikh rules and tenets.

During Operation Blue Star, Bhindranwale and Khalistan supporters took over the Akal Takht complex in Amritsar's Golden Temple.

Bhindranwale was seen as a supporter of the creation of Khalistan. Operation Blue Star specifically was aimed to eliminate Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale from the Golden Temple complex and regain the control over Harmandir Sahib.

Official reports put the number of deaths among the Indian army at 83 and the number of civilian deaths at 492, though independent estimates ran much higher.

OPERATION SUNDOWN

Operation Sundown was the aborted mission which was planned by the RAW agency to abduct Bhindranwale.

OPERATION BLACK THUNDER

Operation Black Thunder was the second phase of Operation Blue Star. The first phase was carried out on April 30, 1986, while the second Operation Black Thunder began on May 9, 1988. It was carried out by Black Cat commandos of National Security Guards (NSG) to remove Sikh militants from the Golden Temple.

Operation Blue Star was divided into two parts:

1. Operation Metal: It was limited to Golden Temple but it also led to Operation Shop - the capturing of suspects from outskirts of Punjab.

2. Operation Woodrose was launched throughout Punjab. The operation was carried out by Indian Army, using tanks, artillery, helicopters and armored vehicles.

BARRING MEDIA

The government faced a lot of backlash in 1984 as they had barred media from entering Punjab altogether. Media personnel were put on a bus and were dropped off at Haryana border. As there was a curfew-situation in Punjab, no mode of transport was available for them to travel. Whoever reached was not allowed to enter Punjab as well.

THE AFTERMATH

The military assault led to tensions across members of Sikh community worldwide.

THE REVENGE

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984, for giving permission for the Operation Blue Star.


Why 1984 Golden Temple raid still rankles for Sikhs

The attack on Lt Gen Kuldeep Singh Brar, 78, in September last year brought one of the most controversial events in recent Indian history back into the headlines.

The storming of the Golden Temple, codenamed Operation Blue Star, was aimed at flushing out Sikh separatists.

They had been demanding an independent homeland - called Khalistan - in the Punjab.

The army's operation outraged Sikhs around the world, who accused the troops of desecrating the faith's holiest shrine.

According to the Indian government, about 400 people were killed, including 87 soldiers.

But Sikh groups dispute this figure. They say thousands died, including a large number of pilgrims who were there for an important Sikh festival, the anniversary of the death of their fifth guru, Arjan Dev Ji.

Parts of the temple were damaged during the fighting and Sikhs felt it was an attack on their religion.

Operation Blue Star led to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was killed by her Sikh bodyguards in revenge.

Almost three decades later a group of Sikhs saw an opportunity to take revenge on Lt Gen Brar, who was in London on holiday with his wife Meena, a visit the couple regularly made, astonishingly without any security.

Lt Gen Brar told the court - by video-link from India - there had been many attempts on his life since 1984 and several extremist Sikh websites had had him listed as their number one target.

The jury at Southwark Crown Court were told by Lt Gen Brar: "[Operation Blue Star] wasn't carried out against the Sikh community but against militants who had been carrying out a lot of killings."

He said they had given the militants lots of warnings but when they had failed to respond, they had had no other option but to go into the temple.

He said he had told his soldiers to use minimum force and not to damage the temple, but after the soldiers came under attack from all sides "they were dropping like mosquitoes.

"You can't sit there like dead ducks," he said, adding that they had had to fight back to defend themselves.

His attackers - Mandeep Singh Sandhu, 34, Birmingham, and Dilbag Singh, 36, from London, were just children when Operation Blue Star took place, but they bore a grudge.

The court was told that two members of Dilbag Singh's family had been missing since 1984 - his father and brother, who were in the temple complex at the time of the Indian army's attack.

When Singh Sandhu and Dilbag Singh found out Lt Gen Brar and his wife were in the capital, they made two reconnaissance missions to check out their movements.

A friend, Harjit Kaur, 38, of Hayes, west London, followed the couple into a casino, a restaurant and onto a bus.

Then on the night of 30 September, in a quiet street just yards away from their hotel, Lt Gen Brar and his wife were attacked.

The court heard Mrs Brar was thrown against a wall as three men grappled with her husband.

He told the court: "I shouted out, 'Who are you? Go away!' and tried to fight back."

Three assailants wrestled him to the ground and a fourth slashed his throat.

"I thought I was never going to see my wife and children again," he said.

The attackers ran off into the night and drinkers from a nearby pub helped Lt Gen Brar as blood poured from his wounds.

He was taken to hospital, where he needed emergency surgery to the deep cuts to his face and neck.

The police initially treated it as attempted murder, but the defendants were charged with wounding with intent to commit grievous bodily harm.

Dilbag Singh admitted he had followed Lt Gen Brar but said it had been with a view to exposing him to the Sikh community so they could protest against his presence in London.

Mandeep Singh Sandhu refused to give evidence.

Kaur also denied the charge.

But all three were found guilty of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

A fourth man, Barjinder Singh Sangha, 33, of Wolverhampton, had previously pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm.


INDIAN ARMY ASSERTS SIKH TROOP REVOLT HAS ENDED

At least 12 more Sikh deserters from the Indian Army were reported killed today and nearly 350 more were arrested.

Military officials declared the scattered three-day revolt by Sikh troops to be at an end, but 200 members of a Sikh battalion in the northeastern state of Tripura stole four military vehicles and deserted today. They were intercepted and, according to officials, surrendered without a fight.

''Only stray cases of individuals remain to be mopped up,'' said Brig. K. L. Juneja, an army spokesman. He said that all other deserters had surrendered, been captured or killed.

Desertion and dissent among Sikh troops broke out last week after the Indian Army invaded the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest Sikh shrine. The army said militant Sikhs seeking more autonomy for the state of Punjab, which has a large Sikh population, had been using the temple as a refuge.

Eleven deserters who had left their posts near Poona, 75 miles southeast of Bombay, were reported killed in Gujarat state, north of Bombay. They were reportedly on their way to Amritsar.

One Sikh deserter was killed and 34 others surrendered today after a brief encounter with troops near Agra, 115 miles south of here. They were among Sikh soldiers who revolted Sunday at Ramgarh in Bihar, killed Brig. R. S. Puri and vowed to go to Amritsar. Seventy-five more of the Ramgarh deserters surrendered today in the state of Madhya Pradesh, west of Bihar.

Officials said three other Sikh deserters were killed Monday in actions against the main body of deserters between Ramgarh and New Delhi, bringing the death toll there to 29.

The newspaper Hindu said 40 Sikh deserters were killed Sunday between Ramgarh and Benares after the brigadier had been killed, but officials did not confirm these deaths.

In all, the deaths of at least 41 Sikh deserters were confirmed by Government officials and nearly 1,000 deserters were arrested.

In another development, the Indian Government arrested two Sikh leaders of the moderate Akali Dal party. The two, Prakash Singh Badal and Surjit Singh Barnala, had previously advocated unity between Sikhs and Hindus but refused to call for communal harmony after the army assault on the Golden Temple.

For the second day in a row, no killings were reported in Punjab, after an almost unbroken string of such incidents every day for weeks. In addition, flights were resumed to Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab, and to Ludhiana, another Punjab city.

In an attempt to head off possible disruptive action by Sikhs, the Government ordered an alert to prevent the hijacking of airliners and to protect vital installations from sabotage.

As part of the alert, security forces tightened controls around New Delhi, and Indian Airlines banned the carrying of hand baggage aboard planes. Most Sikh Troops Called Loyal

Officials did not say whether Sikh troops were involved in these security precautions, but Brigadier Juneja said, ''The vast majority of the Sikh religion have stood by their arms.''

He said only about 1,000 of the army's 1.2 million men had deserted. Sikhs are estimated to make up 10 percent of the army, compared with a 2 percent share in the population.

The Government attributed the Sikh desertions to '⟺lse propaganda'' about the raid on the Golden Temple. Many of the deserters were young recruits, an army source said, and some of them came from the same area in Punjab as Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the militant Sikh who was killed in the battle for the Golden Temple.

Meanwhile, reports persisted that the death toll in the battle was higher than the approximately 450 reported by official sources. A report today, from a reporter for The Associated Press who has been held in Amritsar since June 2, when the army took over security in Punjab, put the figure at 1,220.

A thousand of these, according to the report, which was attributed to military and civilian authorities, were Sikhs who had been in the temple when the army entered it. The 220 others were said to be soldiers. The official figure for army deaths is about 90.

According to the agency report, 100 of those killed in the attack were women and 15 to 20 were children.

Brigadier Juneja said: ''There is no question of children being killed. There were no children there.''

He said the elderly, women and children had been urged by loudspeaker for several hours to come out of the temple grounds before the attack began. Many did, he said.

Some women may have been in the temple, according to the spokesman, but he said they would have been part of the group using it as a refuge.

When asked about the report that 1,220 people died, the spokesman stood by the much lower official figures.

In any event, the death toll is sure to rank among the worst in the long history of civil strife in India. Fewer than 400 died in 1919 in a massacre at Jallinawalla Bagh Park, a few steps from the Golden Temple, in an incident that gave impetus to the movement for Indian independence and made a chilling scene in the recent movie ''Gandhi.''

The Defense Ministry said today that the arms recovered from the Golden Temple complex, mostly of Chinese and Western origin, established that the Sikh militants had foreign links. Some of the arms were said to be of the type used by Afghan insurgents.

In Punjab itself, normal activities were resumed in some parts of the state as the strict clampdown on all movement and activity was eased. Mail service was reinstated in some areas, as was skeleton bus service.


History

According to the Sikh historical records, the land that became Amritsar and houses the Harimandar Sahib was chosen by Guru Amar Das – the third Guru of the Sikh tradition. It was then called Guru Da Chakk, after he had asked his disciple Ram Das to find land to start a new town with a man made pool as its central point. After Ram Das succeeded Guru Amar Das in 1574, and given the hostile opposition he faced from the sons of Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das founded the town that came to be known as "Ramdaspur". He started by completing the pool with the help of Baba Buddha (not to be confused with the Buddha of Buddhism). Guru Ram Das built his new official centre and home next to it. He invited merchants and artisans from other parts of India to settle into the new town with him.
Ramdaspur town expanded during the time of Guru Arjan financed by donations and constructed by voluntary work. The town grew to become the city of Amritsar, and the pool area grew into the Golden Temple complex. The construction activity between 1574 and 1604 is described in Mahima Prakash Vartak, a semi-historical Sikh hagiography text likely composed in 1741, and the earliest known document dealing with the lives of all the ten Gurus. Guru Arjan installed the scripture of Sikhism inside the new temple in 1604. Continuing the efforts of Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan established Amritsar as a primary Sikh pilgrimage destination. He wrote a voluminous amount of Sikh scripture including the popular Sukhmani Sahib.


Indira Gandhi considered secret commando raid before Operation Bluestar

Operation Bluestar continues to be the most controversial deployment of Army in Independent India's history.

Investigations by India Today into the recently declassified Margaret Thatcherer's documents in the United Kingdom, revealed a raid that was planned by Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) to abduct Bhindranwale from a building outside the Golden Temple.

Interviews with retired commandos and RAW officials revealed that the plan was initiated sometime in late 1983 at the behest of Gandhi's security adviser and RAW founder, R.N. Kao.

An official from Britain's elite Special Air Services (SAS) visited India in December 1983 and vetted the plan in which 200 commandos of RAW's military wing, the Special Group (SG), would abduct the separatist militant leader in a combined ground and air assault. SG commandos rehearsed for several months on a mockup of the three-storeyed Guru Nanak Niwas, which they constructed at their base in Sarsawa, UP.

The commandos flew night sorties on specially modified Mi-4 helicopters and even practised heli-drops on buildings near Amritsar. A commando assault unit was to drive in from the ground and drive away with the separatist leader. The commandos did anticipate a firefight with Bhindranwale's heavily armed followers.

The plan was, however, called off by the Prime Minister in April 1984. One of the reasons for scrapping the plan was that she feared civilian casualties in the firefight. The Indian Army, which was then called in, assured her there would be no collateral damage.

Operation Bluestar, the June 1984 operation where 83 soldiers and 492 civilians died and the Akal Takht, one of Sikhism's holiest shrines, was shelled by tanks, continues to be the most controversial deployment of the Army in Independent India's history. It triggered off a cataclysmic domino-like series of events: the October 31, 1984 assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, nationwide riots targeting Sikhs and a Punjab problem that simmered for another decade.

Hazy outlines of this secret RAW plan were whispered about even in the aftermath of Operation Bluestar. Mark Tully and Satish Jacob's 1985 book "Amritsar: Mrs Gandhi's last battle" mentions a commando unit rehearsing a raid on a mock-up of the Golden Temple created in Chakrata.

Military analysts, however, believe the plan had only limited chances of success. "The operation would have needed a guarantee of success, which a special forces kidnap cannot provide," says Colonel Vivek Chadha (retired) of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses.

"Bhindranwale's heavily armed militants would have had a bloody skirmish with the commandos. The isolation of one building would have been a challenge." Sundown now offers only a tantalising alternate view of whether history might have been any different if it had succeeded.


Sikh Mutinies Spreading in India's Army

The Indian Army today attempted to contain widespread mutinies by Sikh soldiers outraged over Wednesday's assault on radical Sikh separatists in Sikhism's sacred Golden Temple in Punjab, rounding up groups of deserters near the southern city of Bombay and in Allahabad in the north.

So far, mutinies or desertions by Sikh soldiers have been reported in seven Indian states: Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. But a spokesman for the Defense Ministry continued to maintain that the number of deserters, mostly recruits, was "very small" and that most of them had been arrested.

The spokesman would provide no figures for deserters, but Indian news agency reports from the Army camps involved indicated the total was at least several hundred.

Following mutinies near Bombay and in the state of Bihar, authorities canceled some flights from Bombay airport and closed the airport at Varanasi after reportedly learning of conspiracies by rebellious Sikh soldiers to seize the airports or hijack aircraft. Special security measures have been imposed at civil airports throughout India, authorities said.

The Army's southern command said tonight that about 100 enlisted men deserted their unit near Pune, southeast of Bombay, last night, took eight military vehicles and headed toward Punjab, firing wildly along the way and killing one person riding on a motor scooter.

Maj. Gen. Depinder Singh, chief of staff of the southern command, said 60 of the deserters surrendered after a shootout near the Bombay suburb of Thana--in which two soldiers were killed and five injured--and that 40 more were arrested at Godhra, north of Bombay.

He said the deserters had been "misled and provoked" by rumors that their families in Punjab were being tortured and that Sikh temples were being desecrated.

Authorities said another mutiny of Sikh soldiers was put down today when a group of enlisted men who deserted in Ramgarh, in the state of Bihar, yesterday and attempted to drive to Punjab surrendered near Allahabad.

Reports from Ramgarh said that 125 enlisted men in 35 vehicles joined a motorcade of militant Sikh civilians after the camp commander, Brig. Gen. R.S. Puri, was shot to death and six other officers wounded in a two-hour gunbattle.

Indian news agencies reported that the remaining soldiers at the base surrendered to a mountain regiment that had rushed to Ramgarh from its base in Ranchi, 30 miles away.

On Friday, about 100 Sikh troops were reported to have deserted in Ganganagar, in the state of Rajasthan, and crossed by truck into Punjab on their way to Amritsar, site of the Golden Temple, until stopped by security forces.

While the numbers of mutineers so far have not been great, the incidents have caused considerable concern in the government of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi because of the likelihood they will cause mistrust between Sikhs and non-Sikhs in the armed services.

Gandhi, in a conciliatory speech to Army troops in Ladakh, in Kashmir, said today that the assault on the Golden Temple was not aimed at any one religion or political party, but at extremists "who had killed innocent people."

"We have full faith that Sikhism has played a great role in fostering the concept of secularism in the country," Gandhi said.

The Army command tonight revised upwards its casualty figures in the Golden Temple assault, saying that since it launched the operation Wednesday, 90 Army troops, including four officers, have been killed.

Army western command spokesman Maj. Gen. R.K. Gaur told reporters in Chandigarh that 292 Army personnel, including 14 officers, were wounded in the attack and its aftermath.

The Army command has not officially changed its estimate of nearly 400 Sikh militants killed in the temple compound, but unofficial reports from Amritsar said that so far 780 bodies have been cremated and that the death toll may reach 1,000.

The entire state of Punjab has been declared off-limits to foreign journalists and the government has continued a prohibition against the reporting or transmission within Punjab of any news relating to civil unrest. Telephone and telex lines to Punjab have been disconnected and most information about the situation there comes from officials in Chandigarh, which is in neighboring Haryana state but serves as the capital of both states.

Today the government also imposed prior censorship on newspapers in Punjab.

Sikhs, who make up only 2 percent of India's more than 700 million population, traditionally have had a disproportionate influence in the Indian military, although that has been waning in recent years.

The Sikh history of militancy dates to the 18th century, when the sect's 10th and last guru, Gobind Singh, vowed to avenge the execution of his predecessor, Tegh Bah Adur, by the Mogul emperor Aurangazeb and created a sect of warriors accorded status not unlike that of the medieval Knights Templars of Europe and were called soldier-saints.

The Sikh warriors were enjoined to add to their names the word singh, which in Sanskrit means lion, and to wear the five k's--kesh, or unshorn hair kachcha, or knee-length undergarments kangha, or comb kirpan, or ceremonial dagger and kara, or steel bracelets.

After the fall of the Mogul empire, and the subsequent Anglo-Sikh wars that ultimately led to the annexation of Punjab by Britain, the Sikhs reconciled themselves to British rule and prospered under it.

They did not join the 1857 Seepoy mutiny against the British, and were rewarded by appointments that swelled their strength in the Indian colonial army to nearly a third by the time of partition of the subcontinent in 1947.

However, under a 1980 government order fixing military service quotas according to state populations, Sikh representation has fallen to 12 percent and militant Sikhs claim that if the regulation were fully applied, Sikhs would soon make up only 2 percent of the armed forces. They are demanding that the 1980 quota be rescinded.

There are a number of exclusively Sikh regiments in the Indian Army, but none of them was used in Wednesday's assault on the 17th century Golden Temple in Amritsar, the most revered shrine in Sikhism.

Official sources in Punjab said that the spearhead of the attack was a mostly Hindu regiment from the state of Assam in the far northeast that had been specially trained for several months for a commando operation against the Golden Temple, while several Sikh regiments from Punjab and bordering states were sent to Assam for security duty.

Meanwhile, there were further political repercussions from the Sikh community throughout India today and some demonstrations against the crackdown in Punjab.

Sikh members of the Allahabad city council resigned from the ruling Congress (I) Party, and Sikhs closed their shops and wore black badges. The protesting Sikh councilmen demanded the Army withdraw from the Golden Temple, and that repairs be made by Sikhs, not by the government.

Two Sikh members of Parliament resigned to protest the temple raid.

One of them, Devinder Singh Garcha, said, "The wound inflicted on the psyche of Punjab during the last one week may take ages to heal."

The other, Amrinder Singh, former maharaja of the preindependence state of Patiala, resigned his seat and membership in Congress (I), saying, "My family has always been patriotic and second to none in loyalty to the nation and to its welfare. We have also had a tradition of maintaining amity between the major communities of the state--Hindus, Sikhs and Moslems--which we have religiously upheld."

The former chief minister of Punjab, Parkash Singh Badal, today demanded withdrawal of the Army from the Golden Temple, lifting of the curfew and handing over of control of the shrine to the Sikh's temple management committee. He urged the state governor, B.D. Pande, to provide a list of all victims to the Sikh's Akali Party.

Badal said the Indian government had "waged war" on Sikhs, and that it was the responsibility of Sikhs throughout the country to fight back.

He called on all Sikh members of Parliament and state legislatures to resign, and said he approved of the desertions of Sikhs from the Army, saying they were fulfilling their duty to Sikhism.

Reports from Chandigarh said that Badal was arrested shortly after making the statement.


1 JUNE 1984-‘THE DARK DAYS OF INDIA’

The Indian military action carried to remove militant religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers from the buildings of the holy Golden Temple, Amritsar is also known as “OPERATION BLUE STAR”. This operation was carried in between 1 June 1984 to 8 June 1984. The president of Akali Dal Party Harchand Singh Longowal in 1982, invited Bindrawale to stay at the sacred temple to evade his arrest. The dark times of the history began with when Bindrawale made the holy temple arsenal and headquarters.

GOLDEN TEMPLE,1984

RAW, Indian intelligence bureau reported that CIA and ISI together are working with Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale against the government in the favor of Khalistan Movement. The intelligence agencies claimed that Weapons training was provided in the gurudwaras of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh to fight against Indian Government for the Republic of Punjab. Pakistani Smugglers were caught in the routes of Kashmir and Gujarat who had relations with Khalistani Movement. After knowing all what is going in Golden temple, On Januray 1984, RAW(Research and analysis wing) prepared a plan to abduct Bhindrawale from the Golden Temple Complex. Everything was on point, but the operation never proceeded due to Gandhi’s rejection.

Many leaders went to Bhindrawale to convince him to surrender, but he declined all the proposals. Indira tried to convince Akali Dal to help her arrest bhindrawale, these things ended up futile among government and Akali’s. By 26May, the officials declared that they have failed to convince Bhindrawale and he is out of everyone’s control. Even Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Harchand Singh abandoned him where he declared,“This bird is alone. There are many hunters after it”.Giving his last interview he stated that,”Sikhs can neither live in India nor with India.

INDIAN FORCES ENTERS GOLDEN TEMPLE,1984

On 1 June 1984, After the failure of Clinch between Indian Government and militants the former Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi ordered Indian army to launch OPERATION BLUE STAR. By June 3 1984, The Indian Army surrounded the holy temple encouraging militants to surrender but all went in vain. However, no one surrendered till 7 pm on 5 June. Taking the situation under consideration, Indira Gandhi ordered the paramilitary and Indian army to open fire at the temple. Without removing shoes, the Indian army and paramilitary entered the temple and started firing at the militants. The battle last till three long days, ending on 8 June. During the fight, 83 army men died leaving 249 injured. According to the reports, 1,592 militants were apprehended.

Sikhs from all over the world criticized the act by the Indian Government hurting their sacred believes. Many Sikh officials resigned their posts, returned their medals given by Indian government. On 31 October,1984 Indira Gandhi was assassinated by the two most trusted bodyguards Satwant Singh and Beant Singh as the revenge of OPERATION BLUE STAR. After the death of Indira Gandhi, Over 3000 sikhs were killed all over the country. This lead to alot of blood shed among Hindu and Sikhs. This was against 1984 Sikh-riots.


Watch the video: Why Indira Gandhi Ordered Army To Kill 1000s of Sikhs In Golden Temple. OPERATION BLUE STAR